I've been thinking a lot about blessings lately. The past three weeks have been very busy at work, and I have had a lot on my mind. Often when I am overwhelmed by things I need to get done, I have a hard time sleeping (I doubt I am alone in this). But a song has been on my mind through this period. If you've seen White Christmas, maybe you remember the scene when Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney are sitting up late one night near the fireplace in the lodge and they sing "Count your blessings instead of sheep."
In those times that I had a hard time sleeping, I have been mentally going over the list of things I have been asking God for over the past few years.
Many of you know how difficult this past year was for us. We were just not prepared for how difficult parenting traumatized children can be. We had no idea the depths of pain that our girls were dealing with, and we were shocked at how they seemed to take that pain out on us over and over and over again. I don't think I can ever express in words how miserable we all were during that span from about Oct 2011 to July 2012. Those of you who were near to us during that time know. The rest of you will just have to imagine. The closest thing I can compare it to is torture. Slowly, daily, we were both worn down. We were both physically and mentally attacked so many times it became hard to believe that any other life would ever be possible or that we deserved the happy lives our friends seemed to be experiencing.
So our biggest answer to prayer has been a return to normalcy in our home. Yes, we still have challenges almost daily. We have two children that are emotionally much closer to 3 than to 8 and 7. We have to constantly be vigilant to protect our girls from getting too charged up, but we know the triggers now. We know what to do to avoid going to that terrible place where our daughters need to be restrained for everyone's safety. The girls are aware of it as well and have talked at length about not throwing fits anymore. We can do some "normal" things and enjoy them together in moderation. They are both doing much better in school. We have teachers and adult friends around them who are aware of how things can be for them and can help. I am more grateful for this change than probably any other answered prayer than I have ever had in my life.
But there are many other blessings I have been counting during these sleepless nights. I remember a time when I felt I had a lot to offer an employer, and no one would give me a chance. I remember the decision we made together for me to go into the corporate world once the photography gig ran its course. We both felt that this would be a difficult transition for me, but a necessary one. What we didn't know at the time was that it would take nearly three years before I could get on that track that I had envisioned back in late 2007. I have a great job in a rapidly growing company. I have been given a position of responsibility and leadership at TrellisWare. I have been honored with raises and recognition at work. None of this seemed possible a few years ago. This blog contains many posts where I complain about fruitless interviews and short-lived opportunities, financial stress and fear. God has taken us through that time. We never missed a house payment, we never had to sell all our possessions, and through it all, we have learned the necessary lessons of financial responsibility. I'm thrilled to be able to report that our mountain of debt will be paid in full sometime around June 2013 (six months earlier than our projections).
I remember a time when we wondered if we would ever be parents. Last night, we watched The Sound of Music together. I have a mental snapshot of my girls snuggling up on the couch that I will cherish forever. It is a joy to watch them develop and learn. The other day, Lynn was reading every sign we drove past. I was remembering how at one time I thought that was a really annoying habit - I think there is a Seinfeld episode about that! When she did it, I was so proud of her. I've had bedtime talks with Ohana and enjoyed her heart for others and can see what a loving and caring young lady she is growing into. In so many ways, the experiences we were hoping for are playing out before our eyes and they are even better than we imagined.
Through it all, Jenetta has been faithful and supportive. Next week, we will celebrate our 19th wedding anniversary. Time has flown by, and I can't think of anyone I'd rather have spent it with. I admire her independence, her tireless research, her consistency with the girls, and so much more. She is loyal and loving, and exactly what I need.
We are surrounded by friends and family that are doing well and enjoying life. We have friends that are getting to travel to Hawaii twice this year. We have friends that are finding love. We have friends that are enjoying special times with their children, and we have friends that are enjoying challenging and meaningful work.
So during those times when I have a lot on my mind or am stressed out by something I am facing, I have been counting my blessings. There are so many!
My prayer for you this Christmas is that you can reflect on the joy and answered prayer in your life and that we can all be truly grateful for it.